by Tom Hallett
Hey, hey Dial-heads, curious browsers and thrifty bird owners! Welcome to another edition of ’Round The Dial, where you’ll find the best in reviews, rants, raves and the occasional intelligent point flitting around like a hot spark from a roaring keg fire. This week, we’re gonna check out some new-to-fairly-new CD releases, so grab your hats and hang onnnn ...
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Because the writing is so tied into the process
of recording, it all becomes like strokes on a canvas. The work isn't really
just sitting down at a piano or guitar and rewriting the verse. The work is
going in and making a record.” — Lindsey Buckingham
SONG OF THE WEEK: “Gold Star for Robot Boy” — Guided
Big Apple to La La Land transplant Jim Bianco delivers his Tom Waits-influenced
rock/pop/carny schtick with flair, his heart in hand and tongue firmly in cheek.
Handsome Devil (I’m no expert, but I think the moniker is a joke)
is a delicious potpourri of catchy, underdog anthems (“Best That You Can
Do,” which brings to mind both the gruff, worried groove of Jon Dee Graham
and the crackling, quirky beats of Chuck Prophet), bizarre, unsettling story-songs
(the title cut), and dark, bouncy love-gone-wrong ditties (“I’m
Sorry,” “More Hands”). Though he admits in the album’s
press kit that he’s vaguely aware of Tom Waits, the connection here is
hard to miss. Sure, it’s nothing new, but frankly this record has more
of those welcome, dastardly Waits-isms lurking in dusty corners and under bottle-filled
tables than much of what the master himself has offered in the past few years.
Bianco’s a great songwriter, a consummate showman, and an interesting
vocalist. Well worth watching.
With soaring, made-to-rock pipes reminiscent of Eddie Vedder’s finest
moments, a knack for penning urgent, catchy, hook-laden pop gems, and a sharp
rock ’n’ roll edge, you’d think a guy like Karl Obermeyer
(formerly of Tremorphlo and The Bottlehouse, among others) would’ve gotten
a little more notice from the local press than he has. Well, sir, I’m
here to try and change all that. Capital
Sons (featuring Obermeyer on lead vocals and guitar, long-time scene vet Gary
Vogel on guitar and vocals, Jesse Thomas on drums, and Keefe Russell on bass
and vocals) are one of those rare (and welcome) local outfits who don’t
really fit into any one category or genre comfortably enough to become “scenesterized.”
And that’s a good thing. Mixing, shaking and distilling such honorable
influences as Paul Westerberg, Pearl Jam and a healthy dose of classic pop,
these guys are poised to make their own estimable mark on the Cities and beyond.
And if this two-song sampler is any indication (“Halo” rides a nasty,
almost rock-a-billy guitar line and a gut-wrenching rhythm section, and sounds
like a song the aforementioned Mr. Vedder would’ve loved to have on his
last album. Or the one before that. Or even ... well, you get my point.) “Miss
Understood” could be the answer song to Westerberg’s “Dice
Behind Your Shades,” with too-true lines like “You grew up way too
fast/ An’ never let the moment last...You held your head so high/Your
tears could never fall to the floor ...”). Capital Sons’ upcoming
full-length just might be the debut album discerning alt-rock fans (whatever
the hell that means these days) have been eagerly awaiting since the terrifying
arrival of Silverchair and Bush way back in the ancient ’90s spelled D-O-O-M
for the last great musical revolution. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.
First We Waited...Then It Started
Brooklyn-based quartet Summer Lawns have been compared to the likes of Nick
Drake, Jeff Buckley, Yo La Tengo, Radiohead and Low, and I guess having two
classically-trained musicians, a “post-grad” front man, and a cello
in the band does give those comparisons some credence. While
it’s true that the music filling, expanding and overflowing from these
grooves does have some of the layered ambiance of all of those artists hovering
somewhere in it, for me the catch here is lead singer Jeremy Linzee’s
almost spooky vocal and songwriting kinship to the late Buckley. Though the
years (and technology) have rolled along almost as fast and furiously as the
river that took that much-lamented songster’s life, Linzee seems to channel
not only the man’s unearthly range but the very spiritual matters which
may have driven him to his untimely end. The addition of such an understated,
yet musically ferocious, band behind words and singing of this caliber is nearly
too much to stand—there are times, listening to this album, when you almost
understand that elusive connection between soul and ear ... and the hairs on
your arms stand on end. Throw in the most over-the-top, psychedelic cover EVER
of the Christian/children’s classic “This Little Light Of Mine”
and you’ve got a package that’s almost too good to be true. A genuinely
inventive, endlessly fascinating heartbreaker of a record that’s surely
gonna find its way to a whole lot of Best Of 2005 lists. Amazing!
That’s it for this time out, gang. Tune in again, same time, same space,
for more of the same. Until then—make yer own damn news!
If you have local music news/gigs/events/CDs you’d like to see mentioned
in this column, or you’d just like to complain that central air is actually
neither central nor really even air, send replies to: Tmygunn777@peoplepc.com.